Tag: The One Another Commands

The One Another Commands: “Welcome One Another” (Rom. 15:7)

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Rom. 15:7)

This verse is be understood in light of Paul’s exhortation at the very beginning of this chapter:

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (Rom. 15:1)

A few verses later he writes,

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 15: 5-6)

Unity, peace, bearing with one another—these are themes throughout this entire passage. Verse 7 isn’t an abrupt change of thought. In one sense, it’s the climax of this passage:

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Rom. 15:7)

But what exactly does Paul have in mind when he says that we’re to welcome one another?

The meaning of this command is easily missed and obscured in our culture. We welcome people all the time. It’s a staple in our seemingly infinite list of social norms. We welcome friends and family into our homes. Every Monday I welcome my students to class. But Paul’s command goes beyond mere manners.

Notice how we are to welcome one another:

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

And how has Christ welcomed us? He has welcomed us as his sheep, his chosen, beloved people, and his Bride. He welcomed us into communion with himself though we didn’t deserve it. The work of Christ—his selfless love—fuels our love for one another. In light of what Christ has done for us, how can we not welcome one another whole heartedly? As Matthew Henry writes,

Let there be a mutual embracing among Christians. Those that have received Christ by faith must receive all Christians by brotherly love; though poor in the world, though persecuted and despised, though it may be matter of reproach and danger to you to receive them, though in the less weighty matters of the law they are of different apprehensions, though there may have been occasion for private piques, yet, laying aside these and the like considerations, receive you one another.

All of this we do by grace alone to the glory of our great King!

The One Another Commands: “Never Put a Stumbling Block in the Way of a Brother” (Rom. 14:13)

There are over 50 one another commands in the Bible. This series of posts is a journey through all of them.

“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”

This week, we will be looking at the second half of this one another command:

Decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Rom. 14:13b)

But what are these “stumbling blocks” and “hindrances” that Paul refers to? In the next few verses he provides us with an answer:

I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. (Rom. 14:14-15)

As we observed last week, the Roman believers were quarreling over whether or not it was acceptable to eat what was pronounced unclean under the ceremonial law. Paul makes it clear that such meat isn’t unclean in itself (v. 14a), but he adds an important caveat:

But it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. (Rom. 14:14b)

Because of this, we are called to both respect and protect our brothers and sisters in Christ by resolving to never put a stumbling block or hindrance in their way. As Paul continues in v. 20:

Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. (Rom. 14:20-21)

These verses bring us straight to a modern application: the issue of alcohol. Reformed Christians (and many other traditions) believe that alcohol is a gift from God that can be enjoyed (in moderation) for his glory. However, we have brothers and sisters in Christ who (sometimes sharply) disagree with us. And that’s okay! What’s not okay—as we looked at last week— is a spirit of arrogance and pride that scoffs at those who disagree with us. We’re called to love each other enough to abstain from beer for an evening if it bruises a brother’s conscience to be around alcohol.

In summary, we’re called to love each other enough that we’re willing to set aside our liberties for them. Will that always be easy? No, but I can assure you that it is far better than wrecking a relationship for the sake of something that doesn’t matter all that much.

The One Another Commands: “Let Us Not Pass Judgment On One Another” (Romans 14:13)

There are over 50 one another commands in the Bible. This series of posts is a journey through all of them.

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Rom. 14:13)

This one another command is lodged right at the heart of Romans 14. It’s both the bridge between v.1-12 and v.14-23 and the golden nugget that summarizes the entire chapter.

As we look at v.13, it quickly becomes apparent that this one another command actually contains two intimately connected imperatives: “Let us not pass judgment on one another any longer,” and, “decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” In a way, what we have here isn’t all that different from Paul’s “put-off, put-on” commands (Eph. 4:20-24)—except that in this particular case the action we are to “put-on” is expressed negatively.

This week, we are going to take a look at the first of these imperatives.

Don’t pass judgment on one another

Notice the “therefore” at the beginning of v.13. That should immediately set off an alarm in our heads telling us to look at the context and ask what comes before it.

In v.1-12 Paul lays out his argument for why we shouldn’t pass judgment on one another, particularly in matters of Christian liberty. He writes,

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. (Rom. 14:2-3)

In v.5 he continues,

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Rom. 14:5-6)

It seems that conflict had arisen among the believers in Rome because some were under the conviction that some of the ceremonial laws of Old Testament Israel were still in effect. Those who understood this to be untrue in light of the New Covenant looked down on them for their abstinence while those clinging to the ceremonial law looked down in judgment on those who ate meat or neglected the Sabbath. So, Paul writes to admonish them and correct their behavior that was doing great harm to the unity of the church.

Part of the reason I go into this is because verses like Rom. 14:13 are often ripped out of their context to support the unbiblical notion that we shouldn’t rebuke or admonish one another. There are two main problems with this view. First, it ignores the entire context of the chapter. Paul’s command—“Let us not pass judgment on one another”—must be read in light of the fact that these Roman believers were at odds with one another over issues of Christian liberty, not over sin. Second, and ironically, in the very act of commanding these believers not to judge one another, Paul is rebuking and admonishing them. He’s addressing an issue of sin and dissension.

But why shouldn’t we cast judgment on one another? Paul answers us with a question of his own:

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Rom. 14:10-12)

I’m not the judge and you’re not the judge. God alone is the judge of humanity. For us to pass judgment on one another isn’t only unloving, prideful, and arrogant; it’s also an attempt to exalt oneself to the place of God. It’s passing disapproval and judgment on those who have been welcomed by our gracious God (v.3).

So, in light of the first half of this verse, and more importantly, the first half of this chapter, we see that Paul is urging us not to pass judgement or condemnation on fellow believers when it comes to issues of Christian liberty. When it is not a matter of sin or heresy, we are to extend grace and love when it comes to those that think and practice differently than we do.

The One Another Commands

There are over 50 one another commands in the Bible. This series of posts is a journey through all of them.

This list contains almost every explicit ‘one another’ command found in the Bible.

Note: I’ve only listed the verses that actually contain the word(s) ‘one another’ (iysh ach, iysh amiyth, or iysh rea in Hebrew and allelon in the greek) coupled with a command.

Old Testament

Leviticus 19:11; 25:14, 17
Zechariah 7:9; 8:16-17

New Testament

Mark 9:50
John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17
Romans 12:10, 16; 14:13; 15:5, 7, 14; 16:16
1 Corinthians 7:5; 11:33; 16:20
2 Corinthians 13:11-12
Galatians 5:13, 15, 26
Ephesians 4:2, 32; 5:19, 21
Colossians 3:9, 13, 16
1 Thessalonians 4:9, 18; 5:11, 15
Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25
James 4:11; 5:9, 16
1 Peter 1:22; 4:8-10; 5:5, 14
1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11
2 John 5

The One Another Commands: “Love Each Other” (Romans 13:8)

There are over 50 one another commands in the Bible. This series of posts is a journey through all of them.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Rom. 13:8)

Love is at the very heart of the law of God.

Paul writes,

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom. 13:9-10)

Think about the very structure of the Ten Commandments. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God and the latter six address how we are to relate to others. These two tables of the law can be summed up in Jesus’ answer to the Pharisee’s question,

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:29-31)

We can sum up the Ten Commandments in a short phrase: love God, and love others. That’s it. Simple, clear, and yet immensely difficult to live out. Think back to Paul’s words in Romans 13:8-10. Loving others means that we will treat them as we are called to in the second table of the Ten Commandments. So, let’s look at each of the examples Paul gives to show us what this looks like.

1. To love others means that we will not commit adultery. If you’re committing adultery—whether that be through an affair, lust, or pornography—you are not loving your neighbors. You’re certainly not loving your spouse, and you’re not loving other men and women as brothers and sisters in Christ who are created in the image of God.

You’re lust isn’t an expression of love, it’s a vulgar display of the desire to treat men or women as objects created for your personal pleasure and satisfaction. It will kill your marriage, your relationships with those of the opposite sex, and chiefly your relationship with God.

2. To love others means that we will not murder. “Well, duh,” you may be thinking. But, assuming you’ve read through the Sermon on the Mount, you and I both know that there’s more to it than that. As Jesus said,

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matt. 5:21-22)

We all know what this means. We’ve hated others. We’ve been angry just because someone interfered with our perfect plan for our life. There have been times that we’ve wished someone would disappear. In other words, we’re all murderers who deserve hell. We all desperately need the grace of God to love others and put our hatred to death.

3. To love others means that we won’t steal from them. We know that stealing is wrong, but we often forget that stealing isn’t just about taking an object that doesn’t belong to you. Certainly, it’s not less than that, but I believe it’s more. In stealing, we are hurting our neighbor. We are essentially saying, “I love myself more than I love you, so I’m perfectly fine with hurting you for my own benefit.”

4. To love others means that we won’t covet what they have. Covetousness is at the root of many of the problems we have in our relationships with others. We see what others have, and we want it, badly. Greed and envy begin to consume us. Eventually, our greed and envy invite their close neighbors bitterness and contempt to the party. And then, whatever love we had for our neighbor is strangled by the fact that they have something we don’t. The relationship dies, and all that remains is malice and gossip.

Paul makes it clear what love isn’t. But what does Christian love look like positively? In summary, to love others means to treat them as God calls us to treat them according to his Word. This is a sacrificial love that genuinely seeks the good of others. “Love,” as Paul writes, “does no wrong to a neighbor” (Rom. 13:8a). That’s radical. By its very nature, love is incompatible with our sin. Lust, covetousness, idolatry, and hate are diametrically opposed to it.

So, it’s silly to pit the law and love against each other. In fact, what we are called to is nothing short of holy love that seeks what is best for others to the glory of God.